I was saddened to hear about the sudden passing of Ralph Spillenger, the longtime bar owner and restauranteur who successfully operated some of Albany's - and the Capital Region's -  most notable bars and restaurants.

The staff at the Hollow Bar + Kitchen in Albany remembered their family friend in a touching Facebook tribute, chronicling his life as an intelligent, freewheeling, businessman, who cared deeply for his staff and family and was fueled by his love for the industry.

In part, here's what they wrote:

"If you love our music scene and our venue, it’s because this man built it from the ground up. He paved the way in more ways than one...Ralph was never someone who played small. He took chances and trusted his vision when many scoffed and wrote him off. He was wild and outlandish. A freethinker, highly intelligent, and drove me up a wall But I loved him so." The Hollow Bar + Kitchen Facebook 

According to the TU, Spillenger, 70,  passed away on Tuesday night at Albany Medical Center after follow-up surgery for an aortic aneurism.

I first met Spellinger about 15 years ago in downtown Albany.  I was there to discuss a future radio promotion -which I would be hosting -  at Jillian's in downtown Albany.

It was something I'll never forget.

Upon introducing myself, the first thing he said was, "I don't like working with radio stations."


It's kind of funny looking back on it now - but at the time I didn't know what to do. Confused, I thought about leaving but a colleague of his convinced me to stay, telling me not to worry, that Spillenger was testing me - and that he's a really good guy.

I never doubted that - and we had many successful promos at Jillian's, The Bayou, and The Hollow Bar + Kitchen.

I don't know if Ralph enjoyed working with my station - or any others for that matter - but I sure enjoyed my time being around him in his establishments, with his staff, and the fine people who visited his places.

RIP to a Real One in Albany

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